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Welfare Reform on the Web (July 2006): Welfare state - overseas

The Antipodean social laboratory, labour and the transformation of the welfare state

L. Cox

Journal of Sociology, vol.42, 2006, p.107-124

The Australian and New Zealand welfare states have undergone dramatic reforms under Labour governments influenced by neoliberal economic policies since the 1980s. This article analyses the differences in Australia’s and New Zealand’s experience of transforming the welfare state and seeks to account for them. It suggests that differences can be explained with reference to variations in the political-economic starting point of restructuring, variations in the institutional context of political decision-making and variations in the balance of social and political power in the two countries.

Capitalism unleashed: finance globalization and welfare

A. Glyn

Oxford: OUP, 2006

Low inflation, quiescent industrial relations, freedom for capital to chase profitable opportunities and the domination of market-based solutions are familiar features of the economic landscape of the rich economies. This book provides a short history of how a huge shift in economic policies and behaviour has resulted in a transformation of our economies into this model. It covers such issues as the drive for shareholder value, corporate scandals, the growth of China’s exports, the New Economy boom in the USA, the impact of globalization on the welfare state, inequality and declining demand for unskilled labour.

Globalization and the reform of European social models

A. Sapir

Journal of Common Market Studies, vol.44, 2006, p.369-390

Article starts from the premise that Europe needs to undertake massive economic and social reforms to develop a knowledge-based economy that can flourish in the global market place. In order to take advantage of the opportunities offered by globalisation, and to avoid the threats, Europe needs to reform its labour market and social policies. In the context of such reforms, the concept of the European social model is meaningless. There are in fact four social models, each with its own performance in terms of efficiency and equity. The Nordic and Anglo-Saxon models are both efficient, but only the former combines efficiency with equity. The Continental and Mediterranean models are inefficient and unsustainable and must be reformed.

Habermas: rescuing the public sphere

P. Johnson

London: Routledge, 2006

For the past four decades the public sphere has been at the top of Jurgen Habermas’ theoretical agenda. He has explored the historical meaning of the concept, reconstructed its philosophical foundations in communication and repeatedly diagnosed its ongoing crises. This study explores the major episodes in Habermas’ thinking about the public sphere. In the early 1990s, Habermas suggested that the modern public sphere is still central to the normative heart of liberal democratic constitutionalism and that we can learn from the traumatic histories and partial successes of the democratic nation states what needs to be done to build democracy with post-national, cosmopolitan reach. In more recent times he has shown the contemporary urgency of these ideas in a variety of public debates over globalization, terrorism, the Iraq War and contemporary American policy.

Poverty, social exclusion and social policy in the Czech Republic

T. Sirovatka and P. Mares

Social Policy and Administration, vol.40, 2006, p.288-303

Analysis of data from the Czech Survey on Social Conditions of Households 2001 shows that a low level of income poverty co-exists with high levels of material deprivation. This paradox is due to the combination of narrow income distribution, low purchasing power of disposable incomes and rising living costs. There is a strong tendency for poverty to concentrate within specific population groups, with the unemployed facing the highest risk of poverty. The benefits system effectively eliminates income poverty among households of employed persons and pensioners, but fails to adequately protect the incomes of the unemployed.

Social capital and welfare reform: organizations, congregations and communities

J. A. Schneider

Chichester: Columbia University Press, 2006

The 1996 U.S. welfare reform legislation depends on the ability of states and localities to move large numbers of people on public assistance from welfare to permanent work paying family-supporting wages. Understanding the dynamic among government, nonprofit, and for profit service providers, families receiving service, and employers becomes important in designing successful programmes. Using data from a series of projects in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, this book addresses two questions regarding U. S. welfare policy in the 1990s:

  • Why do some families in communities succeed in meeting their education, work, and lifestyle goals while others fail?
  • What is the role of community institutions in this process?

The state and its welfare state: how do welfare state changes affect the make-up of the nation state?

H. Rothgang, H. Obinger and S. Leibfried

Social Policy and Administration, vol.40, 2006, p.250-266

Up to the 1970s, in the Golden Age of the sovereign state, nations built up differing welfare regimes. Since the mid-1970s , economic crises, globalisation, public debt, unemployment, and changing demographics have led to welfare state retrenchment. Analysis suggests that convergence, ie decreasing diversity among states in spending, financing and regulation, may have been the most important pattern of welfare state change over the last 30 years. If Western nation states are being forced to move towards a common “one-size-fits-all” model of welfare provision, this should be regarded as signalling a fundamental change at the centre of their make up.

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